He’s one of history’s great villains. So how did the author of Wolf Hall turn Thomas Cromwell into Henry VIII’s hero?
“The fall of Anne Boleyn is the subject of Bring Up the Bodies, my second Cromwell novel. The novel, and the TV retelling, ends with her execution. Why revisit some of the best-known events in English history? It seemed to me that at the core of the story there was something missing. There was a moving area of darkness where Cromwell ought to be. Much studied by academic historians, he appears in popular history as an all-purpose, pre-packaged villain. In fiction and drama he’s just off the page or in the wings, doing something nefarious: but what? I wanted to put the spotlight on him; more than that, I wanted to get behind his eyes, the eyes of a man obscurely born, and watch as his country shapes itself about him, a dazzle of possibility.” — Hilary Mantel